The 2019 UCF student government presidential campaign is in full swing, with presidential candidate Antoine Fields and vice presidential candidate Darbi Welbaum putting transparency at the forefront of their campaign.
“We want to hear what you want to see us working on,” Welbaum said.
Their Another Step Forward platform is broken down into six areas: health and safety, diversity, sustainability, student success, transparency and campus life. Both candidates said transparency was extremely important to them.
“We wanted to add things to our platform that we know we have the ability to get done," said Fields, junior political science major. "Being able to let students know we are passionate about these issues that they are passionate about is important."
The transparency portion of their platform section includes a monthly video update and a student survey to collect feedback about the use of university funds.
Both candidates have been active on campus, as they initially met through UCF’s Knight-Thon morale team. Welbaum said their diverse backgrounds and involvement is one of the reasons they work so well together.
“I’m not in SGA currently, so I have the mindset of everyone else in the student body, feeling like I’m in the dark about things sometimes,” said Welbaum, junior elementary education major. “So, I think it’s important to be transparent and say the things that I wish I would’ve heard from SGA.”
Fields is the deputy chief of staff for SGA and has worked as a resident assistant, Global UCF ambassador and orientation team leader. Last year, he was also a senator for the College of Arts and Humanities.
Welbaum was a member of the Student Government Leadership Council, a committee of students paired with SGA mentors to learn about student leadership. She is also a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, a YoungLife leader and recently competed in the Miss UCF Scholarship Pageant.
During his time in the senate and on the Library Advisory Committee, Fields worked for over a year alongside other SGA members to secure funding for a 24-hour library. As of Feb. 13, the library will be open for 24 hours during finals week this semester.
Both Fields and Welbaum said they want to promote ways students can get involved and that being as open as possible is the best way to make that happen.
Junior political science major Chris Godfrey said thanks to Fields, he has become more involved in UCF politics and advocating for his campus. The pair met through their involvement with on-campus organizations like the Kappa Sigma fraternity and their shared major.
“[With Fields], students will actually have a voice about where the money goes instead of SGA just spending the money and telling them after,” Godfrey said.
Fields, Godfrey and other UCF students attended "Day at the Capitol" on Feb. 21, where students were encouraged to lobby for initiatives on behalf of the student body.
“There’s all these different committees that students have the ability to sit on and give student impact,” Fields said. “The president and vice president get to appoint students to some of those positions and we want to make sure we advertise that to the student body.”
Advertising the open student activity positions is a way the candidates said they want students to get involved.
“We just want to make students feel like they have a voice and that they can make as much of an impact on UCF as they want,” Welbaum said.
In addition to the promises made in their platform, the candidates have other goals they want to advocate for, including improved Wi-Fi on campus and free printing spaces in the library, according to their website.
“While these [advocacy topics] aren’t necessarily in our control, through our ability to sit on the Board of Trustees and other committees, we can push the upper level administrators to do them from their end,” Fields said.
The candidates are already planning on how to balance their new day-to-day schedules if they were to be elected.
“Darbi and I both are really passionate, so I’m not going to give up on anything I’ve been working on or that I’m a part of if elected because I just really love UCF,” Fields said.
When asked about the current SGA president and vice president, both candidates applauded the work that has been done in the past year.
“Our slogan is 'Another Step Forward,' so we commend Josh and Jad for the progress they’ve made, and we just want to take it one more step forward,” Fields said.
Welbaum said both of them have a true passion for UCF and she cannot think of anyone better for the job than Fields.
“Being in SGA, I know the potential that it has,” Fields said “As someone that has worked with a lot of students, who knows the student body very well, I’m not afraid to push the envelope and ask the tough questions.”
General election voting for the next UCF SGA president and vice president will run from March 4 to March 6. Students can vote at open stations on the Student Union's patio or online at my.ucf.edu.